[31 Days of TV Anthology Terror] Bloodride: Ultimate Sacrifice

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To celebrate horror on television, I’m looking back at 31 tales from various anthology series. They’re the ones I vividly remember or respond to the most. No matter what, though, they are proof that horror and suspense aren’t limited to the big screen.

It’s hard to accept major life changes at any age. This is certainly what Molly (Ine Marie Wilmann) feels in Bloodride when she and her family move to the country because of their financial problems. Her husband and daughter are making an effort, whereas Molly won’t accept their new home or status. Yet, when she witnesses a local tradition that can change her family’s life in an instant, Molly decides to make the “Ultimate Sacrifice.”

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Bloodride is a Norwegian horror anthology that premiered on Netflix earlier this year. The 6-part first season went largely unnoticed in the West, but those who tuned in were pleasantly surprised. Not enough local flavor can be found in every episode, but the first entry brings up imaginary Nordic history and dark magic.

“Ultimate Sacrifice” begins like Pet Sematary: a city-dwelling family has moved to a small country town whose bizarre customs stir up culture shock in the matriarch. By that, Molly learns why her bucolic neighbors all have pets they dote over. The area was built on the remains of an old Viking village, and a ritual stone in the woods is where current residents can sacrifice their loved ones in exchange for immediate good fortune. The greater the bond between the executioner and the offering, the more rewarding the fortune. Hence why so many people’s pets don’t last long around these parts.

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Through trial and error, Molly realizes that offing a random mouse isn’t going to fix her money problems. She needs something bigger and more important to her. This is where the episode enters territory that might even make Stephen King himself uncomfortable. It’s never quite clear why Molly so readily accepts the ritual, or even why someone like her has a family to begin with. There are so many unanswered questions about her origin and motivation that will leave more inquisitive viewers unsatisfied Unfortunately, the episode is under half an hour in length so you’ll have to fill in the gaps yourself.

What works about “Ultimate Sacrifice” is its refusal to play nice. It is completely mean-spirited and cynical. The characters just could have used more fleshing out as the running time forces a lot of narrative shortcutting.

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